After Years Without a Grocery Store, Greensboro Neighbors Are Building One Themselves—And They’ll Own It by Dave Reed — YES! Magazine

Fed up with essentially begging for access to quality food, residents of this predominantly African-American and low-income neighborhood decided to open their own grocery store.

via After Years Without a Grocery Store, Greensboro Neighbors Are Building One Themselves—And They’ll Own It by Dave Reed — YES! Magazine.

A few thoughts on food stamp challenges…. #SNAP #Poverty

In my drafts, I have a long and still unfinished piece devoted to the pros and cons of people taking food stamp challenges. I’ve touched on key points here before but the subject deserves an indepth examination. Spoiler: There is one pro and eight different points that are cons.
Maybe some day I’ll finish that post I started. Right now, I’m juggling a lot and haven’t had time to write, so for now, I want to share some thoughts from people who share my frustration with SNAP / food stamp challenges for some of the same reasons.

The discussion was regarding this via think-progress: (but I found it via one of my favorite tumblrs Ask a Welfare Caseworker )

Members of Congress are living off food stamps for a week to protest Republican cuts. It’s a challenge for them, but GOP cuts would hurt millions of everyday Americans. 

carmanitaknits:

 I want a reality tv show where politicians have to live in poverty for a month. They have to live in Government housing, shop with food stamps, and get only a limited amount of money for clothes. Because here, they still have all their trappings, lilke nice cars and thousand dollar suits. I want them in Walmart jeans trying to determine if they can afford a carton of milk.

 

fuck-me-barnes:

Give them a full calendar year. I want to see them confident in January, and sometime around June choking back tears at the Safeway because they are tired, so tired, of eating 25 cent cup noodles, eyeing other peoples’ full grocery carts with a dull bewilderment.

Let me see them despair because they have a persistent nagging cough that won’t go away and might be turning into pneumonia but the minute clinic is $60, which might as well be as six million dollars, either way they ain’t got it to spare – and that doesn’t count the cost of prescriptions. Let me hear them tell people about the muscle cramps they get at night due to eating non-nutritious garbage for months, the weakness from persistent hunger.

Let them know the shame and frustration of only owning one pair of cheap polyester pants for work and one pair of thrift-store jeans, and both persistently have ripped crotches and seams coming undone, no matter how many times they get sewn back up.

Let the women know the particular sort of despair that comes once a month when you can’t afford even the cheapest pads or tampons.

Let them understand the frustration of being charged a $35 fee for a $2 overdraft. Let them watch as the bank holds charges from different days in “pending” till they all come through on the same day, and the bank charges them four times for a single overdraft because “the charges all cleared at the same time”.

I want them to know the particular pain of having to decide between food for the week, or transportation costs to and from work. You can’t have both. Choose wisely.

You do not truly understand poverty until you’ve lived it and a month isn’t enough to encompass it. Not even close.

onemuseleft:

I have $7000 in medical bills this year because I let something go untreated for nine years because I couldn’t afford it. When I broke my hand I refused to go to the doctor because I couldn’t afford it – it wasn’t until my manager swore up and down that worker’s comp would cover it that I even considered going – and there were pieces of bone sticking out of my hand. I once walked on a broken foot for a year. A year. Because my boss wouldn’t let me have the time off to let it heal properly and my job required being on my feet for 8+hours a day. And that fucking foot kept starting to heal and then re-fracturing all over again. Spaghetti makes me sick to my stomach because I ate it every fucking day for months on end because pasta and tomato sauce are CHEAP, but there was no meat and no veggies, so it didn’t really do me any good.

Sometimes I buy things I don’t need just to prove to myself that I can. And sometimes I go crazy and buy bags of things for the homeless shelter and the food bank because Jesus, do people need it and I have a little extra to spare now. Sometimes I hoard things, like soap and food and old clothes that I don’t like and will never wear again, because what if I need it in the future and can’t afford it?

Sometimes I remember being so poor that my power was turned off and my bank account was negative and I had nothing in the kitchen but ramen noodles and canned beans and god only knew how I was going to scrape together $475 to pay the rent on my shitty apartment and the lingering stress makes me start to cry.

Rice for a whole winter, except weekends when my boyfriend came down and took me out, and margarine—forget butter—for it only rarely, so I couldn’t eat white rice for forty years.  Pasta and soup with maybe a burger on payday as my only meat.  No dental work, so my teeth are an ongoing trainwreck.  Living in one-room studio apartments in residential hotels for a decade because we couldn’t afford a real apartment or utilities.  And yes to all the bank crap.

I want the Congresscritters to live through a year of THAT before they vote on programs for the poor.

tamorapierce:

This is why I can’t stand people taking the SNAP challenge.
You don’t know the reality. You don’t come away with true empathy for people living the reality. And you still don’t listen to people living the reality.

10 Biggest Brain Damaging Habits (and who is at risk)

via More Psychology Hacks Here – Life Hackable.

Almost all of this list of brain damaging habits are things more likely to affect people in poverty. I am so sorry for my redundancy at times but we really need to shift this focus off of weight issues  being the primary health concern among those in poverty and give more attention to brain health being the main concern.

1/ Giving children free breakfast in school dramatically increases their academic performance

2/ Many people who live with (or have lived with) food insecurity tend to overeat when they do have food because they don’t know where their next meal is coming from and it may have been a while since they had enough food. 

4/ Affordable foods that provide enough calories (especially in food deserts) are high in sugar.

5/ People in poor, non-white neighborhoods are exposed to more hazardous pollution. Low income housing overall tend to be in more polluted areas of cities.

6/ There’s a distinct link between poor sleep quality and poverty.

7/People sleep with their head covered when it’s cold because they can’t afford heat. (thank you, JW from the comments!)

8/ Poor people can’t afford to take time off work, even when they’re sick.

9/ Poverty depletes brain power 

10/ Poverty is socially isolating. 

 

link round-up: #SaturdaySchool, liberal academics make poor revolutionaries, LGBT housing for low income seniors,and more…

Steve McQueen was born on this day (March 24th) in 1930. My favorite thing: McQueen had an unusual reputation for demanding free items in bulk from studios when agreeing to do a film, such as electric razors, jeans, and other products. It was later found out that McQueen requested these things because he was donating them to the Boy’s Republic Reformatory School for Displaced Youth, where he had spent time during his teen years.”

via Daily Dose from Joey X.

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ICYMI:  The topic of #SaturdayScool this weekend was Children with Incarcerated Parents. If you’re not familiar with #SaturdaySchool, it’s a “a weekly hashtag chat about academics and rights-based issues — but it’s more than that. It’s an idea about protesting misinformation that is funded by corporate media and perpetuated by ignorance. #SaturdaySchool is a weekly digital teach-in intended to cross social media platforms. It doesn’t even have to happen on Saturday. A teach-in is a kind of protest that involves boycotting a previous behavior to learn and teach. “ hosted by @ProfRagsdale . You can check out the entire discussion  ~here~. As always,  there’s a lot of good information to read and discussions to provide food for thought.

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7-Eleven worker can keep job after offering free coffee to homeless man http://t.co/oi0lJZqnjE

Amazed what shop owners and managers will do over a cup of coffee. At least he didn’t call the police. That homeless man might be dead now.

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Why Liberal Academics and Ivory Tower Radicals Make Poor Revolutionaries : Every bit of this had me raising my fist and shouting,”Hell,YES!” . I’m probably just projecting my current frustrations not just with liberal academia but with liberal organizations whose purpose is to advocate for poor and marginalized people but they seem to have little regard for the actual communities they are “working” for.
“Liberal academics and social scientists need to understand their effect on the communities and people they study. Oppressed people who are put under the magnifying glass of academic research have to live with real consequences after the researcher leaves. This is especially true in the field of women’s and ethnic studies — where class, gender, and race consciousness are a part of the research process. Researchers leave behind a stranded community with little to no resources to help them organize movements that will create real change.”

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Apartment complex for low-income LGBT seniors opens in Philadelphia – ““If we don’t take care of our LGBT seniors, we’re not taking care of our community,” says Segal, who believes the housing development should be a national model, “and that’s what real community is about.”
LGBT people have a greater poverty risk. This is why this is important.

via a-little-bi-furious.tumblr.com

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The need for food banks is increasing in wealthier communities [link ]. Things really are that bad all over.

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A quarter of Mississippi residents say they don’t have enough money for food: http://www.gallup.com/poll/167774/mississippians-struggles-afford-food-continue-2013.aspx …

 

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Trying some new things out here at the blog…. cutting back from Facebook posting. There is so much information out there I could post daily but we’d be annoying the hell out of the page followers with all those posts. This will also  make it much easier to find content (there’s a search bar at the righthand side of the page and also easy to categorize & tag) and anyway, I’m a Blogger,not a Facebooker, right?
We’ll see how this goes.

Food is a human right, not a privilege

The first time I experienced true hunger, I just went with it and hoped the answer to having no food would fall in my lap. Something would change. I was not about to go beg for help. I was raised knowing what kind of people got free money from the government. Lazy,good for nothing,waste of space kind of people. I was harder on myself also because I heard all the voices back from when I had a baby when I was just a girl myself…the ones that said, ‘You’ll never make it. You’re going to ruin your own life and that baby’s.’.

Realistically, I should have been proud of the fact that I raised that baby until he was 5 without help from anyone, family or the government. A 35 year old single mother had just as much chance of being the one who found herself suddenly without a job and no new prospects, struggling to avoid eviction and keep the lights on and food in bellies. I just didn’t see it that way then. I saw myself as the conservative naysayer’s prophecy come true. I honestly believed asking for help made me less of a “strong woman”.

ec988e2f4c5c479b9c47ed254621ada9I fed my kid what there was to eat and if there was leftovers, I’d eat that. I was naturally petite, weighing only about 110 pounds at my heaviest winter weight. Before long, I started to lose my curves and people noticed. At first, it was, “Wow, you look great!” , until I didn’t look great anymore and I just looked sick. I weighed 85 pounds before someone I barely knew started leaving food on my doorstep and then made me call DSS to apply for food stamps & cash assistance.I was ashamed and embarrassed, which was only made worse by the way people treat you when you’re getting assistance but the world didn’t end and we ate.

That was the first time.

The second time I was really hungry, I had taken myself, my son, and newborn twins out of a horrible situation and moved into an apartment. It didn’t take long to feel like I had just gone from a dangerous place to another dangerous place. I was working full time, paying more than half my paycheck to daycare, not receiving any child support or assistance from anywhere. As soon as I caught myself rationing food and making sure the kid ate before I did, I recognized that it was time to apply for help. I did and I was denied. I made $110 too much, according to the income eligibility guidelines. $110 too much yet not enough to actually make it.  I applied for a daycare subsidy, trying to free up that money to pay the bills & eat but there was a 6 month waiting list. That’s a long time to wait when you’re hungry. I went to food pantries and bought cheap, gross food. The apartment I lived in had no place for me to grow food.  Then, the daycare center I worked at as a teacher went bankrupt and closed. That saved my ass. No longer making anything, I was approved for food stamps and we could eat again. I don’t know what would have happened if the place I worked for hadn’t closed and I had stayed employed. I had already started not eating at home and looking forward to the free meals served at the daycare.Afterward, living on unemployment & some food stamps, I found myself in the odd predicament of being afraid to find another job and getting stuck in the same situation.

That was the second time.

There wasn’t really a third time. Even though we receive food stamps right now, I didn’t let it get to that point where I was truly hungry. I think you’ve probably figured out that when I’m using the word hungry here,I’m not talking about the little pang you feel between meals. I’m talking about a consistently empty and unfulfilled feeling in your stomach. The kind that makes you tired and slow, physically,mentally,spiritually. I never let it get that far again. There are millions of people in the US who are eligible for food stamps and don’t even apply. There are a lot more who have applied and were denied because they made “too much” . Making too much to receive help is sometimes just as bad as being in that place where you won’t go apply for whatever reason. The system has a lot of illogical rules and  doesn’t serve everyone who needs fed. In most states, the amount someone is suppose to receive as court ordered child support is counted as income….even if  child support is rarely received. Single parents living on one income, not making ends meet at all yet can’t qualify for help because on paper, their income is some figure based on what some slacker is supposed to pay but doesn’t.

People have told me their reasons for not applying. The shame & fear of being judged is an overwhelmingly huge factor. Sometimes the way you’re treated at the social services office by caseworkers varies greatly. Some are compassionate & helpful. Others are cruel & judgmental.The people who have had experiences in the past with government employed social workers who can’t dish out anything but contempt for the people they’re required to help won’t ever go back to apply again.

Humiliation is powerful enough to keep people from getting help to eat. That’s a damned shame. Food is a right, not a privilege. I wish I had understood that 20 years ago. I wish I had understood that it didn’t matter why I had no money to feed myself and my child, I still deserved to eat just as much as any other human being with money in their bank account.

I don’t care how unpopular that opinion is. I don’t express the opinions I have to please those people. I have them to show I care about people who need someone to give a shit about them and because I’ve been there myself. The people who gripe about there being too many people on food stamps  “living high on the hog” as it is and all that bullshit about welfare fraud need to get a dose of reality. More than half the people on food stamps work, they’re just underemployed and half the people also receive them for less than 1 year. Being anti-food stamps because of rampant welfare fraud or other misconceptions is like saying that  a lot of women lie about being raped. It happens so rarely that it makes the issue irrelevant.Of course it’s wrong but the percentages do not warrant an entire argument and raging stigma to be born from it.

I’m not here to talk about how bad welfare fraud is. I’m just here to speak for the larger numbers of people who need help.  Living on food stamps is no picnic but it beats the hell out of not having them at all. 0ed4efd8b7cad7558f3d3947237b7436The welfare stigmas and stereotypes need to die. I don’t know how to make this happen except to keep speaking up for the majority of people who do not fit the stereotype and myth. I encourage anyone who really needs help to go get it and refuse to give a shit about the people who will judge you.No one should ever get to that point where they weigh 85 pounds and are still too embarrassed to ask for help. If you’re treated unkindly, point out that decent humans don’t act like that.

Compassion is a sign of great intellect. If they’re not showing compassion, it proves their stupidity. If you happen to be one of the unsympathetic beings reading this, don’t get all bent out of shape because I just stated that you’re stupid. Just try to open your mind a bit and let your perceptions change a little. Remember this: Shit happens and it happens to the best of us. Someday you could be the one who needs help. Do you really want to be treated like a parasite because of it?

Feed To Achieve Anti-Hunger Campaign Begins in West Virginia

Feed To Achieve program begins soon in West Virginia

The first phase of West Virginia’s anti-hunger program Feed To Achieve will begin soon, starting with breakfast.
The law is designed to ensure ALL children receive meals, regardless of income. I wrote about this when the bill was passed here.

I was mad because this dude thought kids should work for their food…
wv

Rick Goff , executive director of the Office of Child Nutrition at the state Department of Education, says there is a lot of misconceptions about the program.

“The misconception is that it’s going to feed everyone for free. That’s not the case. But, it is the goal. What you’re able to do is dependent on how much funding you have,” he said. “We have to be very cognizant of the fact that if we collect private-sector funds, we need to be careful not to implement programs that aren’t sustainable.”

For example, Goff said, if an individual or a company donated $10,000 to a school district, it’s unlikely a universal feeding program could be maintained, but the funding could be used to purchase food to send home or used for transportation costs to get students to feeding sites.

Of the 52 counties with eligible schools, 14 are resisting the programming . They don’t have directors of nutrition as awesome as Diane Miller, I guess.

“We’re basically creating an atmosphere that’s conducive to learning and eating. I’ve seen an explosion of participation since breakfast was moved into the classroom. Students love it,” said Diane Miller, the county’s executive director for food and nutrition. “It’s not a disruption like some teachers might think. Students might learn better if they’re not hungry.”

Miller said that while she can’t speak for other counties, any extra work that comes with the new law is worth it to Kanawha County Schools to provide more for needy students.

“Some feel it’s an aggressive approach, but in Kanawha County, we took the aggressive approach in order to allow healthier eating and enable all children, regardless of socioeconomic status, to eat,” she said.

It’s always baffling when school administrators don’t recognize the connection between food….enough of it and the quality of it…. and school performance and even more, when they don’t jump at the opportunity to provide all students with equal access to food. Hopefully they’ll all get with the program soon.